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Espresso Con Panna Recipe: What Is It and How to Make It

An espresso con panna is what you get when you take an espresso and top it with whipped cream. The contrast between the strong bitter espresso and the sweet, creamy topping makes it an excellent choice for indulging without added sugar. 

Here’s what you need to know about authentic espresso con panna, plus tips for how to make it at home. 

Espresso con panna

What is espresso con panna?

Espresso con panna means “espresso with cream” in Italian. And that’s what this drink is – a shot (or two) of espresso topped with an equal amount of thick whipped cream. The name might be Italian, but the drink is thought to have originated in the coffeehouses of Vienna. This drink is also often confused with this Vienna coffee.

Things get confusing because, in some countries, this coffee drink is known as a Viennois, but in other parts, a Viennois can refer to a long coffee with cream and chocolate syrup. To add to the confusion, people sometimes sell espresso with whipped cream as cafe con panna. 

How to prepare a Traditional espresso con panna

Preparing this drink requires two steps, but you’ll need a good espresso maker and a willingness to do some work to get thick, fluffy whipped cream.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • 4 tbsp heavy cream
  • 18 g coffee beans
  • Water
  • Whisk
  • Bowl
  • Coffee grinder
  • Espresso machine

AT A GLANCE

BREW TIME:

10 minutes

YIELD:

2 cups

1. Whip the cream

This step will take the longest, so start it first to ensure your coffee doesn’t go cold. Using a whisk, whip the cream to form stiff peaks. You might find it hard to whip the small amount of cream required for one coffee, so invite a friend, or make enough for two servings and store the extra in the refrigerator, well covered. 

2. Make your espresso

The drink’s taste rests on the quality of the espresso, so make sure you start with some good espresso beans, and grind them directly before you brew. Make espresso using an espresso machine or use a Moka pot to brew strong coffee. You can use a single or a double shot.

3. Serve and enjoy

You should gently spoon the cream onto the espresso to float on top. You can drink an espresso coffee con panna by stirring it together, sipping the espresso through the cream, or using a spoon to alternate scoops of cream with sips of espresso.

This drink is traditionally served as is, but you can also sweeten it in a couple of ways. One is to add powdered sugar to the cream, highlighting the contrast between the bitter espresso and the sweet cream. The other is to add vanilla syrup to the espresso before layering the cream on top. You can also serve it in a demitasse cup or an espresso cup for a nicer presentation.

What is the difference between espresso con panna and macchiato?

The difference between espresso con panna and macchiato is that one contains whipped cream, and the other contains milk foam. An espresso con panna is equal parts espresso and whipped cream, whereas a macchiato is a single or double shot of espresso topped with just a small amount of frothed milk.

What is the difference between espresso con panna and affogato?

The difference between espresso con panna and affogato is that one uses cream, and the other uses ice cream. An affogato is a shot of espresso topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or gelato and is often considered more of a dessert than a drink. 

FAQs

There are 35 calories in a Starbucks espresso con panna (1). It is ordered as a doppio size (using 1.5 oz of espresso) and consumed without sweeteners. A Starbucks standard espresso con panna contains espresso and whipped cream only.

An espresso con panna has 70-80 mg of caffeine, just like other espresso drinks that are prepared with a single shot of espresso. When made with a double shot, it contains 140-160 mg of caffeine. A decaf version of this drink will contain around 10 mg caffeine.

Yes, espresso con panna is keto-friendly if you stick to the basic recipe. Two tablespoons of heavy cream contain just 0.8 g of carbs, and 1 oz of espresso contains 0.5 g of carbs, for 1.3 g per serving (2). Most keto diets restrict carb intake to 20-50 g of carbs per day.

  1. Espresso con panna. (n.d.). Starbucks. Retrieved May 15, 2022, from https://www.starbucks.com/menu/product/411/hot
  2. Lang, A. B. (2021, July 15). Heavy Cream vs. Whipping Cream: What’s the Difference? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/heavy-cream-vs-heavy-whipping-cream
Kashmir Brummel
Growing up in a coffee-free household, the discovery of the Moka pot as a teen was something of a revelation. I’ve now upgraded to the AeroPress for my daily brew, with a Hario V60 on hand for lazy weekend mornings.

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